Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Force Awakens: Opinions, Critics, and QUESTIONS!!

I will be spoiling EVERYTHING about The Force Awakens, so if you haven't seen it yet (and if you haven't, GO AND WATCH IT ALREADY!) now is the time to leave; but PLEASE come back and read this once you have!

Ok, you've been warned.  Continuing on.....

To make writing this easier for me, I'm going to be using a lot of acronyms.  Here is a list, to help anyone who is unfamiliar with them:

TPM= The Phantom Menace
AOTC = Attack of The Clones
TCW = The Clone Wars
ROTS = Revenge of The Sith
ANH = A New Hope
ESB = Empire Strikes Back
ROTJ = Return of the Jedi
TFA = The Force Awakens
EU = Expanded Universe

When word first came out back in April, 2014 that the new Star Wars movie had been officially cast, I realized this was really going to happen, and began to get excited.  I had many worries; Disney bought Lucasfilm and with it the rights to ALL things Star Wars in 2012.  I was familiar with director J.J. Abrams, through his work on the TV show Alias, which I am a huge fan of.  I just wasn't sure what to expect because, let's face it:  the last time the world had anything new from Star Wars, it was in the HORRIBLE, WRETCHED form of the prequels!  Don't EVEN get me started on those!

More news soon followed that stories from the Expanded Universe (EU), which are all stories that take place either after ROTJ or between other movies like ESB and ROTJ, would no longer be considered "Canon", meaning the powers that be didn't want the new story to be restricted by what had been written by others.  For a more detailed description about the EU, and how it affected fans, click on the link here to read my initial post discussing these changes.

After the initial cast announcement was made shortly after in April, 2014, we didn't hear anything about Star Wars for about 7 months.  Click the link here to read my thoughts about the cast reveal. 

Fast forward to November, 2014.  The first of 3 "teaser trailers" was released.  This was our first chance to see what the new installation of Star Wars was going to look like.  Die hard fans, like myself, were nervous. The prequels REALLY slapped us in the face hard.  So I held my breath and watched the teaser below:

I was jumping for joy, and must have watched that teaser a good 20 - 30 times before calling it good for the night!  The Millennium Falcon was there, we got our first look at new characters and droids, and the familiar music from ROTJ was there to make it sound like Star Wars.

Riding that wave of excitement, we then learned that every 5 or 6 months from then until the movie opened on December 18, 2015, we'd be seeing a new teaser trailer.  April, 2015 is when the next teaser dropped.  I made the mistake of watching this during lunch at work.  It's known by EVERYONE at school, students and co-workers, that I'm a HUGE Star Wars fan.  I wanted to wait until I got home to watch it, but I was so excited that I couldn't.  Here's what I watched in the lunchroom the day it dropped.

Two words:  Han Solo!  It was all I could do to keep myself from screaming like a teenage girl watching The Beatles arrive at the airport during their first trip to America!  So many questions came to mind as I watched this teaser over and over again.  This teaser convinced me that this wasn't going to be the disaster now known as the prequels.

In late October, 2015, the official trailer came out.  Apparently some people were SO EXCITED to see the this, that they bought tickets to see the movie it was playing before, and then just left the movie theater!  No, I didn't do this!


If you weren't already excited to see Star Wars, this at least got most people interested, if only a tiny bit!

I was able to get tickets to see the movie on opening day, just before the internet crashed due to how many people were trying to buy tickets!  After what seemed like an eternity, December 18th FINALLY arrived!
I could hardly contain myself.  The theater was packed full of devoted fans, like myself.  I was like a kid on Christmas day, hardly unable to wait to open presents.  I was sitting in my seat, shaking so badly that Nick (my husband) was afraid I would pass out!  Adrenaline was the ONLY thing pumping through my veins!

When the Lucasfilm Ltd logo came onto the screen, the audience ERUPTED with screams, and I screamed with them!

And it got even louder when this familiar phrase followed.  The moment so many of us had been waiting so long for, had arrived.

During the entire movie I was squeezing Nick's hand because I couldn't contain my excitement. Each time one of the veteran characters, or a familiar joke or phrase that we've come to love over the years was repeated for the first time, the crowd would scream.  It was unlike any movie experience I've ever had. And I doubt I will ever have that experience again.  What did I think about the movie?  Simply put, it was incredible.  It looked like Star Wars, it felt like Star Wars, it sounded like Star Wars.  I've now seen the movie three times, and I hope to see it at least once more in the theater before it comes out in April, 2016 on blue ray.

I've now read many reviews of this movie; by both professionals and just regular Joe's like myself.  There are many, many questions that this movie has raised regarding the back story of most characters.  Some people have found themselves getting VERY PICKY with their reviews of this movie!  I'm going to take this one character at a time, and discuss my opinions, and "plot holes" that others have whined about. So here we go!


From the moment I first saw Rey, I liked her.  I loved that her character was a scavenger, going into ships we're familiar with like a Star Destroyer, and living inside a downed AT-AT Walker like those seen in ESB. It gave me something to bond with since it brought back a nostalgic feeling.  Rey can handle herself, and she needs to be able to do this, based on her living situation.

The big questions surrounding Rey:

-Who are her parents?
Many people think that Han and Leia are her parents.  Yes, she and Han seemed to bond rather quickly. And she did have a knack for knowing her way around the Millennium Falcon, which would make sense if she spent the first few years of her life flying around in it with Han....BEFORE he somehow lost it. (more on that later)  Those could point to reasons why they are her parents.  Realize however, that the Falcon had been near her for many years, and although it hadn't flown in years (according to Rey), that doesn't mean that she'd never been inside, or learned how to fly it.

Why would they have separated Kylo and Rey?  One could argue it's because Kylo was much older than Rey, and had already turned to the dark side and started the Knights of Ren by the time Rey was the age we see her being left on Jakku in her force vision.  Han and Leia needed to protect her from Kylo and the dark side, so she was left on Jakku, much like Luke was left on Tatooine to keep him safe from Vader. Kylo seemed to know who she was pretty quick after speaking to her. Whether it's because she's his cousin, or his sister has yet to be revealed.

Others point to the fact that Leia hugged Rey first when she and Chewy came back to the planet after Han died as being a clue to her parentage.  I thought this was weird.  Of all the people to hug FIRST after Han dies, it should've been Chewbacca, but oh well.  People say that because Leia hugged Rey first, it points to them being mother/daughter.  I don't buy this one. When would Rey have been told that Han and Leia were her parents to warrant that kind of hug?  There was no time for this conversation, unless it was off camera. Rey had been captured by Kylo, and spent the rest of the movie trying to escape before meeting up with Han, Chewy, and Finn on the Starkiller base.

The biggest reason I don't agree with the idea that Rey is Han and Leia's daughter is that it is to much like the most popular, and revered EU story, Heir to the Empire, where Han and Leia have twins.  The son turns to the dark side, and the daughter kills him.  TFA took the idea of the son turning to the dark side, but Disney made such a big deal about staying away from EU stories, and declassified them from canon to "legends", that to do this would seem completely counterproductive.

Another popular theory is that Luke is her father.  As I watched The Force Awakens the first time, I leaned over to Nick and said this to him around the time of Rey's force vision.  The biggest event that points to this being true is the fact that Luke's lightsaber, which he lost on Bespin when Vader cut off his hand, is "calling" to her.  The moment she touched it, the vision began.  And when she was fighting Kylo at the end of the movie, he tried to call the lightsaber to him using the force, but it flew straight to her.  Rey was able to withstand Kylo trying to get information about the map out of her using the force.  You need to be VERY strong in the force to do this; whether you know you're using the force or not.  It would make sense that the lightsaber that originally belonged to Anakin Skywalker and was later given to Luke would strongly call to Luke's daughter.  Plus, watching Luke turn around and look at Rey in the last seconds was the most powerful moment of the entire movie.  Luke appears to be looking at the lightsaber, but I think he's looking at Rey, realizing he's looking at the daughter he had to leave years before.  Some would counter still that Rey could be Han and Leia's daughter because Leia is Vader's daughter and has the force too; and that would explain the lightsaber calling to her.  My counter to that is Leia never really learned how to use the force the way Luke has.  Yes, she felt when Han died, but she is in no way as skilled as Luke.  I absolutely believe Luke is her father.  We'll see.

One more theory I've read is that Rey is somehow related to Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Ok, let me see if I can even figure out how this would be possible.  In the series The Clone Wars, which takes place between AOTC and ROTS, we discover that Obi-Wan once had a relationship with the Dutchess of Mandalore, and it was so strong that he had been willing to leave the Jedi Order to be with her, if she asked him (which she never did).  CLONE WARS SPOILER ALERT:  The Dutchess died during this series, so unless there was a love child that no one knew about, this relationship probably didn't produce offspring.  Remember back then, relationships were a no-no for Jedi, which is why Anakin and Padme had to hide their marriage, even though they lived in a house that EVERYONE could see into; but I digress.  Once he was in seclusion on Tatoonie, watching over Luke, I suppose Obi-Wan could've had a relationship.  He was a good-looking guy when the Jedi were killed, and there was no longer a Jedi Order to report to, so I suppose anything is possible. However, this would require A LOT of explaining because Rey would have to be much further down the family tree for the timeline to work.  I don't think I agree with this idea.

-Why can Rey fight so well with a lightsaber?
This question bugs me.  She clearly already knew how to fight.  DID YOU NOT WATCH HOW SHE FOUGHT OFF PEOPLE TRYING TO TAKE BB-8 AWAY ON JAKKU?  Clearly she knows how to take care of herself.  How do we know that when she fought Kylo it was her first time using a lightsaber? For all we know, she could've been training to use one before she was left on Jakku.  Maybe Luke used a Jedi mind trick to wipe away Rey's memory of her family.  You'd think though, that normal fighting instincts might kick in when she fought Kylo.  She was angry during their battle until the very end when Kylo tried to sway her to the dark side and she remembered to use the force.  Once she began using the force, her fighting became MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE, to the point of practically taking Kylo down. Also remember that Finn had fought Kylo with the lightsaber first in that battle, and basically got his butt kicked because he doesn't have the ability to use the force.

-How come Rey can use the force so quickly?
Many people are bothered by the fact that Rey barely learns about the force and then turns around and is suddenly using it everywhere.  The critics say that it took Luke a long time to master the force.  True. However, let's also remember that Luke only had about 2 conversations with Obi-Wan in ANH about the force before Obi-Wan died, AND it was with that little training that he was able to blow up the first Death Star (with the help of Han Solo and Chewbacca...who should've received a medal too!). Rey had an equally long conversation with Maz Kanata after her force vision where Maz explained what was happening to her. Again, going back to her younger days; we have NO IDEA how much training she had in the force before being left on Jakku.  You can bet that if Luke is her father, she was being trained from day one.  The ONLY issue I have with Rey's ability to use the force so quickly comes during the scene where she uses a Jedi mind trick to convince the Stormtrooper to set her free.  Luke had seen Obi-Wan do that when they arrived at the Mos Eisley Cantina. WHEN had Rey ever seen someone use a Jedi mind trick to know that it was even possible?  This isn't an instinct, like fighting is, so had she seen it as a child before being left on Jakku (and possibly having her memory erased), she most likely wouldn't have known about this at all.

And, of all the stupid questions regarding Rey, there's this one:

-How can Rey understand Chewbacca when no one else can (except Han)?
Once again, go back to the movie.  While on Jakku, she speaks many different languages to many different creatures.  Why is it so hard to believe that she can understand Chewy?  Oh, and Han isn't the only one who can understand Chewy.  When they arrived on the base where Leia was, Chewy was getting his arm looked at by a nurse. He was talking to her and she was saying that his adventure sounded so scary.  This could also be further evidence that she's Han and Leia's daughter.  Before being left on Jakku, she could've spent a good 3 to 5 years in Chewy's presence, giving her plenty of time to begin to understand his dialect.


Ah, the face from the first teaser trailer.  I enjoyed his character.  He has a great sense of humor, "I"m a big deal", and I look forward to seeing how his character unfolds, especially since he probably should've died when Kylo basically sliced open his back with a lightsaber, but I'm sure he'll live.

Apparently the First Order (new version of the Empire) no longer uses clones for their Stormtroopers, (THANK GOODNESS) but instead steals kids basically from birth and trains them to be killers for the First Order.  Finn is a sanitation worker who is on his very first mission when the movie begins.  After seeing his friend murdered, and witnessing what is happening to the people in the village, Finn decides he wants nothing to do with the First Order anymore.

Critics have issues with Finn as well.  Here we go.

-Doesn't Finn know what Stormtroopers do?
Yes, I'm sure Finn knows that Stormtroopers kill people.  That's what he's been trained to do his whole life. But training to do something, and actually being able to do it are two very different things.  Let's also remember that this is his VERY FIRST MISSION!  I have a feeling that the first time a fire fighter, police officer, or member of the military walks into their first mission, they are anxious, nervous, and might even question what they're doing.  Oh, and maybe, just maybe the original plan wasn't to slaughter the entire town.  Maybe, just maybe when Finn saw what was happening he decided it was too much for him and decided to change.

-Finn is a janitor.  Why does he think the First Order cares about him, and how would they know which Stormtrooper he is?
Seriously?  Have you ever WATCHED a Star Wars movie?  All someone had to do was start disagreeing with Vader and he force choked them.  It didn't matter what your position was; if you messed with the boss, you were taken down.  You can bet that no matter HOW BIG the First Order is, if they knew that one of their own had betrayed them, they would be hunted down!  Who cares if he was "only" a janitor, he failed his mission!  Kylo Ren had felt Finn not take the shots when the village was being destroyed, and even looked straight at him.  Captain Phasma saw him with his helmet off, and knew his "serial number", so it was easy to figure out who he was. Finn was going to go back for "reconditioning", according to Phasma, but escaped before it happened.  Oh, and while we're at it:  for those asking why Finn had never questioned an order before:  THIS WAS HIS FIRST MISSION!!!!  I'm sure he had NO PROBLEM taking the trash out, since that was his original job while working in the sanitation department!  Clearly all of the Stormtroopers struggle with SOME part of their job, otherwise there'd be no reason for "reconditioning!"


Surprisingly, I don't have much to say about Poe.  I loved his scenes with Finn, and I hope that in the next movie they get to interact more.  The escape in the TIE Fighter was hilarious!  I'm also looking forward to learning who the old man was that gave Poe the map to Luke Skywalker.

Captain Phasma

Can someone, ANYONE tell me the purpose of this character?  For months, this character was being hyped up and all we heard about was how awesome she is, and how cool she looks.  I'll agree, she does look cool, but umm...she's only in about 4 scenes, one of which she's captured WAY TOO EASILY by our heroes. She then turns off the shields basically because they ask her to. Watch it again:  when they have a blaster on her, she lowers the shields.  Then they turn away long enough for her to have sounded an alarm...something...anything!  In my opinion, she is this trilogy's equivalent to Boba Fett...the most OVERRATED character in Star Wars history!

Kylo Ren

For months, people all over the world thought that Kylo Ren was Luke Skywalker.  I didn't buy this theory for two reasons.  1) How stupid would it be to have Luke turn to the dark side when he almost lost his life trying to save his father?  2) Had NO ONE been paying attention to the fact that the man in the previews wielding the lightsaber in the snow had LONG, DARK HAIR, and looked YOUNG?

Where Anakin annoyed the heck out of me, Kylo Ren did not.  They have a lot of similarities.  Anakin's temper tantrums made me want to spit, Kylo's made me smile...and almost laugh.  The Stormtroopers turning around and walking away while Kylo is throwing a lightsaber fit in the next room was hilarious!  They did a great job of showing the audience how desperate Kylo is to be like his grandfather, and yet how much he still has to learn before even coming close to having that kind of power.  The mask Kylo wears is a great example of this.  He doesn't need to wear one; he's not disfigured; but he relates it to the power Vader had, so he chooses to wear one. Clearly not completely overtaken by the dark side, he's being manipulated by this Snoke person/creature, much like Vader was COMPLETELY manipulated by Emperor Palpatine.

I loved his scenes with Rey.  Watching him try to get information out of her, and failing, had me cheering in my seat.  Their battle in the snow was also intriguing because we haven't seen a Sith (a Jedi using the dark side of the force) really loose a lightsaber battle.  Sure, they've been sliced in half (Darth Maul), their heads have been cut off (Count Dooku), they've lost limbs (Darth Vader), and been thrown down shafts in the Death Star (Emperor Palpatine), but their lightsaber skills were all top notch, and gave the Jedi a run for their money.  Here, Rey just about takes Kylo out.  This shows he has much still to learn.  Where I couldn't care less about the "villians" in the prequels, I'm intrigued to learn more about Kylo Ren.

Here are some questions/issues people have about this character:

-Why does he hate Han so much?
While interrogating Rey, he pulls from her that she thinks of Han as the father she never had.  He tells her that she would've been disappointed.  People are all freaking out about this, and I don't know why.  I'm guessing it has something to do with the fact that they sent Kylo off to train with Luke and the other Jedi.  THEY HAVE TO SET UP THE STORY!  I have no doubt this question will be answered during the remaining movies.  I know I'm curious.

-Where did he get Vader's mask?
Again, SERIOUSLY?  Being Han and Leia's child, and Luke's nephew, you have to realize that at some point over the 30 years since ROTJ the adults would have spoken about what happened to Vader, and where he was put to rest.  Maybe around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, Uncle Luke told Kylo the story about his grandfather, and it came out then.  How difficult would it be for Kylo to just go back to Endor and find the helmet?  Even better; maybe Luke went back and got it; WE DON'T KNOW, so stop stressing over it!

-Kylo is the leader of the Knights of Ren, but you never see any of them in the movie
If you were paying attention during Rey's force vision, we saw seven or eight men in the rain, dressed just like Kylo who are a part of the Knights of Ren.  Presumably this is from Rey's past, as it happened in the vision before she saw the battle in the snow, which happened in her future.  Once more, this is a set up for the future movies.

-Kylo could sense Han the minute he landed on the Starkiller Base.  Why couldn't he sense Han when he was standing right behind him?
People really are stupid.  That, or they just want to find ANYTHING wrong with the movie, or they simply can't think for two seconds.  OF COURSE Kylo could sense Han standing behind him when he was on that bridge.  He was acting like he didn't know where Han was so that Han would follow Kylo out there.  IT WAS A TRAP YOU NIT-WITS!  Their entire conversation is about how Kylo is torn.  He knows there's something he needs to do (kill his father), but he doesn't know if he has the strength to do it.  He lured Han to a place where he was vulnerable, and took a GIANT step towards becoming a Sith Lord.

Here's a question I have:

-Vader turned back to the good side before he died.  Why does Kylo seem to think that Vader was still a bad guy?
I'm guessing that this will also be answered in future movies.  Does the galaxy not know what happened on the Death Star with the Emperor?  Have they spun the story a different way?  Like the story about Vader's resting place on Endor, you know that Han, Leia, or Luke told Kylo that Vader turned back to the good side and saved Uncle Luke.  Why is he trying so hard to be like a guy who realized the dark side wasn't the way to go?  Maybe more manipulation by Snoke?

Oh, one other small thing that's itching at me:  I was stunned to hear that Kylo's name is Ben.  I get that he was most likely named after Obi-Wan, but I still find that really strange.  Han and Leia hardly knew Obi-Wan.  Luke was the one with a FAR GREATER connection to him.  And again, the writers stole from the EU.  Luke eventually has a son, and he's named Ben.  If you're going to discredit the EU by no longer calling them canon, but legends, stop taking ideas from them!  Anyway...

Han Solo

I KNEW that Han Solo was going to die in this movie.  Where I never actually read it anywhere, there were many clues that would lead the average fan to figure this out.  Harrison Ford has wanted Han Solo dead for over 35 years; ever since he was frozen in carbonite in ESB.  Watching the promotion of this movie, I realized that Harrison Ford NEVER promotes his movies like he did this one.  Heck, the fact that they got him to sign on for the movie AT ALL spoke VOLUMES to me.  Harrison went to a Comic-Con convention with the other cast members, he was on all the late night talk shows and even participated (if only briefly) in a cast singing of Star Wars songs! Heck, he was even on an internet clip surprising fans by giving them free tickets to the movie!  I knew that the only way he'd come back was if Han was given a great role, and if they killed him in a way that made his character mean something.  I found out after the movie opened that he was paid somewhere between 10 and 20 MILLION DOLLARS to come back, so I'm sure that didn't make it a hard choice either.  He's over 70, and no longer considered "hot stuff"; although he is STILL my celebrity crush, and will be FOREVER!

I really enjoyed watching Han Solo in this movie.  The humor was there, the jokes that we all have come to love, everything.  The scenes where he shot Chewbacca's bowcaster for the first time were fun.  I also knew, as I hope you all did, exactly when the time had come that he was going to die.  Whenever characters split up, it almost always means one of them is about to die.  My only wish for that scene was that Han had simply fallen backwards onto the bridge, instead of falling completely over it.  For some reason, that bugged me.

Here we go with the Han Solo issues:

-Why did Han Solo leave in the first place?
It was made very clear in the movie that after Kylo turned to the dark side, Han felt that he reminded Leia of Kylo every time she looked at him.  He went "back to the only thing I was ever good at" (smuggling), and so did Leia (politics).  There is MASSIVE back story to this, (which I can't wait to discover) but I think it's a combination of failure, loosing Leia, and whatever happened between Luke and Kylo when Kylo killed the Jedi.  Do I think it's improbable that Han Solo would up and leave after all these years?  Yes.  This isn't the Han Solo from ANH who was only interested in saving himself.  However, we have NO IDEA what the complete story of the past 30 years is, so I'll wait to hear it before I make a complete judgement.  This is actually another reason why I don't believe Rey is their daughter.  When Kylo turned to the dark side, and Han left, why didn't he just go and get her, and make her part of his "crew" like he had earlier suggested?  If he wasn't anywhere near Kylo, and not even with the Falcon, it would've been much more difficult for Kylo to find her.

-How would Han Solo loose the Millennium Falcon?
Ok.  I have to go with the critics here.  The Millennium Falcon is Han's most PRIZED possession.  How in the name of all things sacred would he "loose" it?  If they had mentioned it was during a game of sabacc (a popular Star Wars card game where Lando lost the Falcon to Han to begin with), or that he'd been captured at one point and that's how it ended up with other people, I could swallow it better. But all they gave us was a long list of people who stole it from each other without telling us how HE LOST IT TO BEGIN WITH!  I really want answers to that one!

A question/concern from me:
-Why wasn't Chewbacca a WHOLE LOT MORE UPSET when Han died?
Go back with me to ESB for a moment.  The shield doors on Hoth have to be closed, and Han is still out trying to find Luke who has been captured by the Wampa creature.  When the doors shut, Chewy lets out this "My friend is going to die (or is dead)" type of howl.  You can completely tell he's worried.  Later on, in the same movie, when Han is frozen in carbonite, there's a chance that he won't survive the freezing process. While Han is being lowered into the chamber, Chewy again let's out that same howl.  When Han ACTUALLY died, they hardly had Chewy react at all!  Sure, he shot Kylo; umm, he normally would've made a better shot, but they can't kill the primary antagonist, so I'll let that go.  All we get is a few seconds of Chewy looking sad on the Falcon after they take off.

Millennium Falcon

Just real quick:  how many of you were just going CRAZY with joy when you saw Rey and Finn flying this thing? Each time it hit something, or almost hit something, I was covering my eyes.  The fun of seeing it in the air again was fantastic.  Oh, and when it hit the trees; holy cow, I was dying while I watched this beloved ship get smashed up!  But it was so fun to see a built model of the ship we've grown to love over the years, and not some CGI creation.

Leia Organa

I don't have much to say about her either.  From the opening crawl, when her name was used, I knew she wasn't going to be married to Han, like she is in the EU.  I was bummed about that.  Clearly she's still in politics.  At one point her and Han had a massive falling out.  She still loves Han very much, and he loves her, too.  Questions about Leia are all those regarding Kylo that have yet to be answered.  Oh, I've got one: why wasn't Leia shedding some tears when she felt Han die?  And WHY didn't she hug Chewbacca first when he got off the Falcon?!?  That bugged me.  And is it just me, or did the dialogue between her and Han seem much more forced that it did in any other movie?  Maybe that's because there's 30 more years of history we don't know about, and not due to bad acting.

Luke Skywalker

We've finally come to the mother lode.  Our beloved Jedi master who has gone into hiding.  He was only in about two minutes of the movie, had NO LINES at all, and managed to steal the ENTIRE movie and leave us dying to know what happens next!

Here's what we know:  Luke established a Jedi Academy where he would train future Jedi.  Somewhere along the way, his nephew Kylo found a way to basically slaughter everyone at the academy, and send Luke into hiding.

Questions from critics:

-Why isn't Luke in the movie?
Before the movie came out, there were rumors that Luke wasn't going to be a big part of this movie. Instead, he was going to have a much more prominent role in the following two.  J.J. Abrams explained that the reason they did this was because he knew the minute Luke came on screen, no one else was going to really care about what any other character was doing; they'd just be focused on him.  It was important to introduce new characters.  And Abrams was right.  Like I said before, Luke was in 2 minutes of the movie, and stole the show.

-Why did Luke leave?
Many people are taking issue with this because they simply don't believe that Luke would go into hiding because Jedi were killed and because the Resistance needs him. Oh REALLY?  Maybe he's taking a cue from his former masters. What did Yoda and Obi-Wan do when Vader killed all the Jedi?  THEY WENT INTO HIDING, knowing that the time would come when they could train Luke. They were the last two Jedi left.  They knew that the Empire was taking over, and they went away and let it all happen. Luke is in the same situation that Obi-Wan and Yoda were in.  Kylo killed all of the Jedi, and the First Order is taking over.  Why is it such a stretch of the imagination to believe that Luke would do the same thing, knowing that Rey would eventually find him?

-If he was hiding, why did he leave a map behind?
I have NO IDEA.  Again, let the 2nd and 3rd movie come out first.  Hopefully there's a REALLY good reason, because this question bugs me too.

-What happened to Luke's hand?
Since he was shot in his artificial hand while saving Han in ROTJ, he's always worn a black glove over it.  In the picture above, he's touching R2D2, and there's no glove, or fake skin, on his hand.  When we see him in the last scene of TFA, we get a better look at his hand and it's looks completely robotic.  Why is it like that? Again, I'm guessing it had something to do with Kylo Ren.

More criticisms of TFA:
There are many people who are complaining about how much the story line of TFA is recycled from ANH. There are quite a few similarities.  The "cantina" that Han, Rey, and Finn go into, where Rey has her force vision, is like the Mos Eisley Cantina where we first meet Han and Chewbacca.  The young heroes, (Rey and Finn) watch their mentor (Han) die, much like Luke watches Obi-Wan die.  And the entire plot of the Starkiller about the destroy the planet unless it gets blown up first is just like the Death Star blowing up the planet Yavin.

There is a reason for the similarities:  THAT WAS THE POINT!  J.J. Abrams made this movie for the fans. I believe he wanted to help the fans get as far away from the prequels as possible; AND IT WORKED!  Like I said; this movie LOOKED, FELT, and SOUNDED like a Star Wars movie for the first time since ROTJ came out in 1983.  The similarities don't bother me one bit.  I embrace them.

Last few questions:

-How did Maz Kanata get Luke's old lightsaber?
I don't know, but I can't WAIT to find out!

-Who is this Snoke person?
Obviously bad, but I look forward to his back story too.  On a side note, one critic was making an issue about how big Snoke looks on the hologram and if that meant he was that big in person.  Umm, this person has never seen ESB.  Vader has a meeting with the Emperor the same way!

-How are they going to tell Kylo and Rey's back story?
Producers of the movies have already come out and said that EVERY cast member will be returning.  This includes Han Solo.  That must mean there will be A LOT of flashbacks to be able to completely tell this story; unless they come up with some crazy way to prove he didn't die.  I don't see how that could be possible though, since we all watched him get run through with a lightsaber!

Overall, this movie was INCREDIBLE, and one of my favorite's. There were no fuzzy Ewoks, or ridiculous Gun-guns named Jar Jar Binks, so that alone is worth watching it!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Did You Think To Pray?

Well, after having such a difficult few weeks, I got on my knees yesterday and had a screaming conversation (through prayer), with Heavenly Father.  I've been angry, frustrated, confused, and I needed to find peace with having to move back into an apartment, peace with my job situation, peace with many, many things.

I was planning to go and see a townhouse that morning, so during my screaming prayer I asked to know whether it was the right place to go.  I REALLY wanted to move there, because the thought of going all the way back to an apartment made me want to puke.  Apartment living sucks, and I have felt that by this point in life, we should be past that.

I went over to the townhouse complex, and toured the model home.  We had lived in the "sister" complex to this place back when we lived in Draper, so I was really excited.  It was really nice.  I happened to ask about the washer and dryer; whether we could hook up our own.  Nope.  Yikes, that became a huge strike against them.  We love our washer/dryer, and we want to USE them, not put them in my sister's garage!  I continued the tour and noticed there was no linen closet for towels and bed sheets, no way to put a shelf above the washer and dryer for our detergent to sit, and the parking was VERY far from the house.  I still left a holding deposit, but I knew that Nick wasn't going to be happy about the washer/dryer situation.

Once home, I began writing a pro/con list.  This place is smoke and pet free: BIG pro.  That was about the only pro I could come up with.  The townhouse was in a location that provides no privacy, and like I mentioned earlier, we wouldn't be able to use our beloved washer and dryer or have the other few amenities that we would like:  especially for the price they wanted.  Needless to say, I was bummed and wondering what we were going to do.

Later that day, I had the feeling that I should go over to an apartment complex that is near our current house, and one that I've done research on before. Online it looked like a nice place, but I didn't seriously look into it was an apartment and that was the LAST place I wanted to go.

Brandon and I went over, and we toured the model.  I LOVED IT!  We could use our washer and dryer, it has a linen closet, a pantry, and a shelf in the laundry room.  Parking is much closer, the apartment we would be getting is in a more secluded spot, and it's on the 3rd floor, where no one will be above us.  Sure, moving in and climbing the stairs with groceries won't be fun, but I could use the exercise!  The apartment is also about $150 less than the townhouse, and 200 square feet bigger! It's the perfect size for the 3 of us, and the apartment community has beautiful landscaping and a very nice feel about it.  I couldn't believe it, but I found myself WANTING to move into this apartment!  I was stunned.  The night before I'd had a huge conversation with Nick, begging him to find the money in the budget for us to go to the townhouses. Suddenly I was completely happy with moving into this complex.  It was an answer to my screaming prayer from the morning.

As I continued to talk with the nice lady in the office, everything came together.  We'll be able to start moving into the new place throughout the month of August since we'll have to pay rent for the place we're in now because the lease won't be up yet.  We can live in the new place, get it completely set up BEFORE school starts, and spend more time cleaning this house so that we can get as much of the deposit back as possible.  We won't have to RUSH to move this time, like we've had to do the past 3 times.

As I mentioned in my last post, this has been a very difficult year.  I have finally found the answers I've been looking for.  I am at peace with why I am at my current job, that it's where I should be right now.  I am at peace regarding where we will be living in August. The answers didn't come when I wanted them, they came when they were supposed to.

Life is full of trials.  How we handle them is what is important.  Next time we find ourselves angry, frustrated, and confused, we need to remember this:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In My Life

Yep, it's been a while since I've been on my blog. Do you like the overhaul?

Image result for why me images
Without a doubt, this has been one of the hardest years of my life.  After having so much success finding another job, and finding it so quickly, the new job turned out to be very difficult and took an enormous toll on my health.  It was beyond stressful and due to this I had to step down from being a full time teacher, and was a paraprofessional instead.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a paraprofessional is like a teacher's aide.  Once the decision was made, I took boxes into "my classroom" for the last time, took everything off the walls, and began packing up the items that were mine...crying the entire time.

The first week after I left my class was VERY DIFFICULT.  My students weren't told why I was no longer their teacher.  They would ask me why I wasn't their teacher anymore when they saw me in the hallway at school.  There wasn't much I could tell them besides, "It's just a decision that was made".  It broke my heart every time.

During this ordeal, I continued to wonder WHY this was happening, and WHY I had picked this school out of the other offers that were given to me.  At the time Nick and I both felt so sureso confident about this choice...what the heck was going on?  It was a daily struggle.

As time went on, the question of "Why did we pick this job?" was answered.  Well, at any other charter school, I would've had a MASSIVE pay cut going from a full-time teacher to a paraprofessional.  Here, I was able to keep the same pay, just go to hourly.  It was still a big hit financially, but not nearly as bad as it could've been.  Most paraprofessionals make half what I do.  The question of "Why this job?" was now answered.  My stress level was much less, and I was still able to teach reading and math groups, and interact with students, so that made the hit a little easier to take.  I continue to look for another full-time teaching job, but as of right now, I'll be returning to my paraprofessional job when school starts again in August.

We knew that once our current lease was up this September, we would be moving out of this house.  There are only 3 of us, and West Jordan is an INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE place to live. Again, because of my health, we have to live somewhere that is close to wherever I work.  So, we will be downsizing.  If I find another full-time job, we won't have to downsize quite as much.  If I stay at my current job, we'll be downsizing even more....much to my YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!  This November we will have lived in Utah for 5 years and we will have moved FIVE times (Sandy, Draper, Tooele, West Jordan, and wherever we end up next).  Ummm, enough already.  This next move needs to be somewhere we can stay for a while because I am DONE WITH MOVING!  We need stability.  Brandon has made friends with kids on our street, and he'll loose that soon, which kills me.

Each time we move, we have to change church wards.  Since there are so many Mormons in Utah, the boundaries for each ward are small.  If you move a few blocks, you are in a new ward, or group of people you go to church with.  This means each time we move, we have to leave the people we know, and attempt to learn the names of all the new people...which is not easy for me at all.  We've been here almost a year, and I only know the names of a few people.  I knew we were going to leave again, so why bother!  Heck, we didn't even hang pictures on the walls of this house because we figured we'd move again and it would be less work when it was time to pack again; plus, we wouldn't have holes to cover up!  It's frustrating.

Since we will have to downsize, I'm holding a garage sale sometime next month.  I want to get ride of EVERYTHING we haven't touched, looked at, or used in over a year.  We have a basement FULL of stuff to get rid of.  This has become my daily task, since successful garage sales take A LOT of time and effort to put together.  I've spent many hours researching on the internet regarding how to do this correctly.

For now we are in limbo.  As of right now, we have no idea where I will be working come August, and we have NO IDEA where we will be living September just won't be here.  I will begin packing the house up AGAIN starting next week.  It's a little early to do that, but I want it ready to go so that the minute we know what is happening come August, we can just pack the truck and leave.

Moving on.

Brandon turned 8 this last March.  He made the decision to be baptized and become an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It seems like just yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital. Suddenly 8 years have past, and he's gone

from this:

to this:

Where has the time gone?  It was a fabulous day spent with family.

The sweetest part about all of this has been watching him read the set of scriptures that Grandma and Grandpa got for him.

I will survive.  I always do.  Somehow, we will be okay.  I have NO IDEA how, but I know we will be.

To end on a happy note...have you seen the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer?!?  Holy cow, I almost peed my pants when I watched it!  The last 10 seconds alone made it all worth it!  I can't WAIT for December 18th!  That Friday I'll go see it with Nick, then the next day I'll see it with Brandon!